Emily Lam

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boston Strong

So many things transpired in Boston these past two weeks, climaxing with the Boston Marathon Bombings. It's all a little hard to swallow. But I would still like to take a moment to describe what happened, with pictures to help illustrate the emotional roller coaster Bostonians experienced.

So let's take it back to the day before my last post.

April 13th was a day of volunteering for many Boston University students, including myself. The 13th would be BU's annual global day of service (GDS), where current students and alumni rack north of 20,000 hours of service in one day. It's safe to say, many people were excreting positive vibes from a nice day of community service -- I know I was after a day of yard work at Spontaneous Celebrations.

April 14th was the day before the Boston Marathon. This was was a day of nervousness and carbo-loading for many runners. Everyone was gearing up for the marathon the next day. Students worked on assignments, knowing full well that they wouldn't have time to study tomorrow. Unfortunately, they wouldn't know until tomorrow afternoon that they wouldn't be able to study for different reasons than they anticipated: terror, disbelief, and sorrow. One of the things I did on April 14th was make a sign for my friend Anastasia, who was running her first Boston Marathon. I'm sure across Massachusetts, many family and friends were making signs of support.

April 15th was the day of the Boston Marathon. The above picture show the elite male runners. This was around mile 20, and let me tell you, they were still sprinting: my camera's shutter was not fast enough to capture entirety of the lead runner in time. I only got his leg. It's very exciting to see the elite runners from all around the world racing here in Boston.

And of course, non elite runners are just as fun to watch, including the charity runners, some of which sport costumes I wouldn't be able to last a hot day in, let alone run 26.2 miles. It's truly an inspiration to watch the runners go by; you marvel at their toughness and applaud and cheer them on -- they've worked so hard, you must cheer them on and prevent them from craving to their own self doubt. There's a quotation going around by Scott Dickey:
“They attacked the wrong industry. If you think about what it takes to qualify for the Boston Marathon, you’re talking about people that are pretty tough and pretty gritty already. They are used to being able to overcome, withstand and resist trauma.”
I think this rings loud and true. When you watch the runners pass by, you get a sense that they are the people who have the discipline to overcome and withstand any hardship.

All along the 26.2 mile route there are crowds of people cheering the runners on. It's quite a jubilant atmosphere. Everyone was having a good time, the runners and the spectators. None could predict what would happen next.

Within half an hour of the bombing, the marathon route was evacuated. Some 4,000 runners did not finish. And the city went into high alert. Shock engulfed Boston. But that did immobilize the spirit of Boston. The response in the aftermath of the bombings was incredible. The first responders were on top of the situation. Bostonians offered up their homes to stranded marathoners. Social media immediately took on the task of organizing the situation: connecting loved ones, spreading important information quickly, and informing those outside of Boston of the situation. And those who could not help physically cooperated and stayed out of the way. There was not a sense of chaos. It was very beautiful how the city of Boston reacted. I am impressed and proud to be a part of Boston.

But despite all the strength, everyone was sober and full of grief. This is a location that probably would not have finished celebrating until the early AM of tuesday. But atlas it was dead.

April 16th was a day of mourning. As the death and injury count started to come in, everyone had some relation to a victim of the bombings. The three deaths were all young people with promise. The events of the day before were starting to digest. And the realization that the city had been compromised seeped in. What plagued the next couple of days I think was more chaotic than the actual bombing. There was an uncomfortable uncertainty in everybody. Although everybody remained strong and vigilant as they tried to return to normalcy. But it took it's toll, people were weary.  The bombers had yet to be captured. And everybody was extra cautious and still on edge. Every hint of suspicious activity was called in. For me, it was the sirens that wore me out. The sirens continued nonstop, and it really eats at you. 

Just when things were starting to settle, a string of horrible events occured continuously starting Thursday evening. An MIT officier was shot by the suspects of the bombers and a massive car chase and manhunt followed. The death of the MIT officer was the tipping point for me; I was really tired and worn. I decided to sleep in hopes that when I woke all would be better -- I was set to volunteer at BU's open house. How wrong was I though. When I woke, I learned that one of the suspects was dead. And the city of Boston and surrounding towns were in lockdown and a manhunt was ensuing. And the sirens didn't stop. It did feel like a movie at times. The city was eerily quiet. I applaud the city of Boston for cooperating with the law enforcers and taking the lockdown seriously. Eventually, they got the guy.

There was an incredible display of strength throughout this entire ordeal. Law enforcers and reporters worked straight with little to no sleep. Everyone from the top politicians to us students took the events seriously. And the outpouring of support from everyone was incredible. Boston has deep roots of strength from the colonial days and I am so glad they are still present.

Even now, when Boston has returned to normalcy, people haven't forgotten the victims. People gather at Copley Square to pay their respects. To contribute to the strength and to support one another.

And all these, the spirit, the strength, the support, the pride, and the resolve, are what makes Boston such a special and unique city.

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